Mobility, digitalisation, and health & safety are some of the key themes of Festool’s latest launches, all of which are much in evidence in its updated solution for plasterers, painters and drywallers. The quality of German engineering needs no introduction, of course, but with the manufacturers at the premium end of the market it’s often the detail in the design that sets them apart still further, and that’s just what the Planex LHS 2 225 EQI long-reach sander provides.
The trend in interior decorating today is very much for smooth surfaces, and that has put greater onus on tradespeople, and the equipment they use. Fine work will betray every blemish, a problem exacerbated by the softer plasters and fillers now on the market. That then requires increased levels of sanding, which in turn brings its own dust generation issues.
The first problem to address when using a long neck sander is to actually see the surface you’re working on, which is not an easy proposition on many poorly lit jobsites. The solution on the new Festool Planex is a 360º light ring, which encircles the head of the sander and illuminates the work area. The LED was tested for over 20,000 hours and was still running, whilst it can be switched on or off as required.
As with any job, a fine finish requires the right equipment, and this instance that’s a random orbital sander with an eccentric movement. These have only hitherto been available as relatively compact tools, which would certainly keep you busy on a large area, but the concept now extends to the latest Planex, with its 4mm stroke delivering the kind of surface quality that clients now demand.
An improved adjustable extraction system means it’s very easy to move to ceilings, where greater suction power is required. A simple switch on the machine, with two symbols – either wall or ceiling – allows you to adjust the vacuum for the task at hand, with the tool then able to hold its own weight when working overhead, reducing the effort required from the operator.
If you do need to rest then fear not, because Festool has thought of that as well, with an integrated holder for the Planex, extensions and sandpaper on the company’s dust extractor, not only giving it a home secured from damage but eliminating the need to bend down to pick it up. Thanks to the two extensions included, the tool’s working length can be increased by up to 2.1m, reaching the parts others cannot, and with high ceilings well within its range. This is where a new T-handle will find favour, allowing the end user to hold steady and manoeuvre at the surface far easier, even when at maximum extension.
The improvements do not end there because enhanced levels of extraction are achieved with a new multi-hole configuration on abrasives. The paper is only ever as good as the dust extractor itself, of course, and it would be fair to say that there is still some confusion as to what the trades might actually require. Festool itself has an extensive range but always recommends the CTM 36 E AC for use with the Planex, with the AC referring to ‘Auto Clean’. With this unit the filter is cleaned every ten seconds, providing constant extraction power.
Through the Festool App, the tool can be registered and then connected via Bluetooth. It is then possible to control some functions from your smartphone or tablet, including the LED ring light. When the Planex is turned on the light is programmed to come on automatically, but again, via Bluetooth, this can be changed so the light does not come on until required, whilst the level of brightness can equally be adjusted up or down. In the event of a fault the App also allows you to connect directly with a Festool engineer who can help you diagnose the problem. Thanks to the increased longevity and efficiency of a brushless motor, however, maintenance is itself reduced, whilst a rubber coated hose, adds to service life.
Why use a Random Orbital Sander?
Single orbital rotation, is just a simple circular sanding movement, with the abrasive turning in a circle around the disc, which can leave scratch marks, especially when first contacting the wall. With a random orbital sander, there is both a circular and elliptical movement. That eccentric orbital motion means that no single part of the abrasives travels the same path twice. As a result, every part of the disc is moving at the same speed, and material removal is more even, reducing the risk of unwelcome marks.
For further information on Festool visit festool.co.uk